Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thinking Thursday - What I Read This Month

I'm almost finished with my Reading List that I posted back in April! I knew it wouldn't last me very long since I generally read 2-3 books each week. Here are my thoughts about the last four books I read.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

This book was a fun one to read, though it was a little weird. It was nothing like what I expected, mostly because you really could not anticipate what is going to happen in this book. I didn't particularly like most of the characters in this book as I thought they didn't seem complex enough. But the mystery was fun and unexpected and it kept me interested through the end.

My Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I've read Gaiman's Graveyard Book and really enjoyed it. But I saw the movie Coraline and really didn't enjoy it. So I went into this one hesitantly. This book was definitely better than the movie, but what book isn't better than the movie adaptation? The book was an interesting read after having seen the movie first because I mainly noticed the differences. Overall, I still wasn't a huge fan of this book. I made it through because it is a kids' book and is fairly short. I would say it is suitable for older kids who don't get scared too easily. Coraline, the character, still felt a bit flat and uncaring, though that could be because I'm looking at it from a parent's perspective.

My Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

This was an incredible read. I have read my fair share of World War II memoirs and novels and this one ranks right at the top of the list. It is difficult to believe at times that this is a true story, but it is. And it will make you wonder about your own resilience when you read about Louis Zamperini's experiences. And now that World War II is distant enough in the past that there are few left who remember it, I feel it is important for people to read these accounts in order to understand what life was really like.

My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I loved this book. I admit it, I assumed that I would enjoy this book before I even cracked the cover. I have read several of Sue Monk Kidd's other books and enjoyed them, so I expected this one to be no different. I was not disappointed. This book is fiction, inspired by historical figures, but I feel it paints a brilliant picture of life during slavery in the South. She captures the brutality and anger of slavery while also managing to capture the humanity and hope that somehow survived through it all.

My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What I'm Working On Wednesday - Baby Quilts

I feel like I am right in the middle of several projects, but not getting anything finished! Here is what I am working on today: baby quilts!

This first baby quilt that is almost finished is a ballet-inspired 4-patch slice quilt that I made using the tutorial on Inspiring Creations (found here). Since little Cecilia was born last week, I really need to finish this up, but luckily all I have left is the quilting itself. The piecing and appliqué were the real time-consumers on this one. But I love how it is turning out, so it was totally worth it!

This baby quilt is in its first stages, cutting and piecing. This pattern is from Moda Bake Shop and it's found here. This one uses pre-cut layer cakes, so I chose Ashbury Heights by Doohickey Designs.

The other thing I am working on this week is putting together kits for Days for Girls International. As mentioned in a previous post, I started my own team, and today, I became official! Check out my new logo:

So, if you happen to live in the Salt Lake Valley and want to join my team, let me know! It's a great cause!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

This is what we do for Memorial Day.

Violet and Eddie visiting Great-Grandpa Tommy's grave.
I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day and spending it remembering those who have given us the freedoms that we enjoy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pinners Wanted!

I am looking for pinners! I want to turn my "Sewing Tutorials" Pinterest board into a group board, which means I need a few good stitchers to join me. If you are interested in contributing to this board, please leave me a comment including your email address and I'll send you an invitation. All that I ask is that you pin only sewing tutorials and always pin from the original source.

The board is currently quite small, but I would love it to grow and become a resource for anyone looking for a good sewing tutorial. So please join me!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Easy Shirt Alteration - A Tutorial

I am notorious for buying and wearing v-neck t-shirts. My hubby and friends tease me about this. So in an effort to branch out, I have been working hard to find shirts I like that are not simple v-necks. That is what led me to ordering the "Swiss Dot Boho Top" from Old Navy. (Yes, I know it has a v-neck... I'm taking baby steps, folks.)

Once I received it and tried it on, I realized something just wasn't right. Eventually I decided the sleeves were too baggy and needed to be altered. Thus, this post was born.

In this photo, you can see the difference, though it is subtle. The shirt is meant to be a little loose, but to me, the sleeves felt puffy. I took them in about 1.5 inches and think it made a big difference. If you would like to try something similar, here is a step-by-step tutorial on how I did it:

Step 1: Put the shirt on inside out so you can see the seams. Determine how much you need to take the sleeve in. Since I was doing this by myself and only have two hands, I stood in front of the mirror with the shirt on inside out, held my arm out horizontally, then pulled the seam running down the sleeve down so I could see how much excess fabric I had to work with. I estimated that I needed to take off a little more than an inch.

Please note: This shirt is woven, so it does not stretch. If you're working with knit, be very careful not to stretch the shirt as you pin and sew, because the results will not be pretty.

Remove the shirt and lay the sleeve flat, lining up the seams. Then, pin along the line you plan to sew. I didn't want to worry about altering the armpit or the cuff, so I started in the armpit where the seams all came together, brought the line up to narrow the sleeve through the middle, then brought the line back down to the cuff. The result is a much straighter line from armpit to cuff.

Step 2: Sew the line. I used big stitches so that it would be easy to pick out if I messed up. With one sleeve sewn, turn the shirt right side out and try it on in front of the mirror again. If it looks right, move on. If not, go back and change your sewn line as needed.

Step 3: Turn your shirt back to wrong side out. Zig-zag right along your sewn line to prevent fraying. Then, trim off the excess fabric.

Step 4: Now you're ready to move on to the other sleeve. You want the sleeve to match, so lay your unaltered sleeve flat on your work surface. Then fold your shirt, laying the altered sleeve over the top, lining up your edges. Then, pin your unaltered sleeve right along the new seam on your altered sleeve.

Follow the same steps as above for the second sleeve. I skip trying it on this time around, though. Once you've zig-zagged and trimmed your excess fabric, you're done!

This same technique can be used for altering all sorts of clothing. If you have a similar item that fits well, use that as a template to help you get a good fit.

{Linked on Upcycled Treasures, And Sew We Craft, VMG 206, Lil Mrs. Tori, Nap-Time Creations, New Nostalgia, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Hope Studios, Ladybug Blessings, Coastal Charm, My Pinterventures}

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fabric-Covered Magnet Board

Today, I am working on a project that will (hopefully) help me be a bit more organized -- a fabric-covered magnet board. I have tried this project before using one cut of solid-colored fabric, but today I wanted a version that would be more interesting. So, I pieced it!

Here's a tutorial:

I started with a simple cardboard-backed magnet board that I found on clearance at Target. It is about 11.5 inches square.

Choose your fabric. For my fabric, I chose three coordinating prints.

This fabric is some that I got from Stampin' Up! They have discontinued their fabric, but several of the lines are still available on clearance. It comes in sets of three fat quarters and is currently priced at $3.99/set. Go check it out!

Cut your fabric. Once I selected my fabrics, I cut them random sizes. I used 45 degree angles to make the piecing easier.

Piece the shapes together until they are large enough to cover your magnet board.

Remember, when you're piecing fabric, press your seams down after you sew each one. This will help the finished piece lay flat and makes it much easier to avoid bunching. 

Trim your pieced fabric down to fit across your magnet board.

Be sure to take the sides of the magnet board into account and leave enough fabric so that it can wrap around to the back. Give yourself at least an extra inch on each side, depending on the thickness of your board.

Attach your fabric. This can be the tricky part. Lay your fabric wrong side up, then place your magnet board face down on top of it. Do your best to center your magnet board, then pull one edge to the back and staple it in place. Make sure everything is still centered, then pull the opposite edge of the fabric to the back and staple that in place.

This is just like upholstering a cushion. Make sure you always move to the opposite side for every new staple, pulling the fabric snug as you go. This should make the fabric evenly tight across the front of the board.

For the corners, take your time! Tuck and fold until you can get the corners as flat as possible, then put in as many staples as you need to secure them. They don't need to be pretty on the back as long as they're pretty on the front!

Rock it! Find somewhere to hang your new masterpiece and get some cute magnets to match!
Creative K Kids

{Linked on Content in the Meantime, Someday Crafts, Handy Man Crafty Woman, The Crafty Wife, Family Home & Life, Wine & Glue, Pig & Dac, Sew Much Ado, The Turquoise Home, Fluster Buster, Gingerly Made, Makin' It In the Mountains, Denverista}

Monday, May 12, 2014

Delicious Dessert Roundup

Maybe it is because I am trying to lose weight and I know that a good diet is the key for me... but I just couldn't resist putting together a delicious dessert roundup today. I have made several of these recipes and others are things I would like to try. The first is one originally posted by my hubby on our personal blog... delicious gourmet s'mores!

(Click photos to be taken to original source)

Gourmet S'mores
Caramel Apple Cheesecake from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Churro Cheesecake from The Recipe Critic
Key Lime Tarts from Our Best Bites
Peanut Butter Chocolate Eclair Cake from Purple Chocolat Home
Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Pass the Sushi
Strawberry Cream Puff Cake from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Triple Chocolate Cheesecake from Inside BruCrew Life

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

There's nothing like becoming a mother to really help you appreciate your own mother. I am grateful for my mom, who taught me pretty much everything I know. Most importantly, she taught me how to be a wife and a mother. So thanks, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thinking Thursday - A Few Book Reviews

I'm on a reading binge. You know those times when you ignore all the other things you have going on in your life because you just feel like reading... and reading... and reading? This one is rather ill-timed because I have a lot on my plate these days between teaching sewing lessons, trying to sell my house, going on vacation, planning birthday parties, being Cub master, etc. But that hasn't stopped me from reading a lot.

Since I love reading so much and I want everyone else to as well, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on some of my recent reads. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well, so feel free to chip in!

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

I love books about self-discovery. This one did not disappoint, though it did seem a bit rough in places. I thought this book was great in how it intertwined the past and the present as Strayed hiked for three months, mostly alone.

Reading this book made me want to take an adventure. I know I have had times where I wish I could just leave everything behind and do something absolutely crazy... and that is what Strayed did. I certainly would never dare do anything as intense as a three month solo hike, but it is fun to think about.

Would I recommend it: Yes!

Bury Her Deep by Catriona McPherson

I'm always in the mood for a fun little mystery, so I have enjoyed reading McPherson's Dandy Gilver series. I've read a few of them now and I have to say, this one was not my favorite.

The mystery and story are good up until near the end when it all unravels... in a way that I don't think anyone would ever guess. In some mysteries, that is a good thing, but I don't think that it works well in this one. I felt like there was too much misdirection and not enough clues as to the real solution.

Would I recommend it: Yes, with reservations.

I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree by Laura Hillman

Obviously this is a big jump to make from a fun mystery novel. This is a memoir of a Schindler's List survivor. This is a wonderful, poignant memoir. It is hard to fathom Hannelore's resilience in the face of the horrible atrocities of the Holocaust.

Despite the heavy subject matter, this is a beautiful narrative of Hillman's experience as a young woman struggling to survive, and ultimately finding love in spite of her terrible circumstances.

Would I recommend it: Definitely yes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What I'm Working on Wednesday

I haven't been completing any projects lately, so that has left me without much to post! Today I wanted to share something that is a work in progress -- and hopefully will be a work in progress for a long time.

Last month, I was searching for a sewing service project for my church sewing group to work on. I found many great projects, including Operation Smile, Project Linus, and Dress A Girl Around the World. Those all look like wonderful projects and there are many more out there. The one I finally settled on is Days for Girls

This organization makes and distributes reusable feminine hygiene kits to girls and women in developing countries. I think the reason this particular project appealed to me is because the sewing is fairly simple, but the impact can be enormous. I have lived a pretty sheltered life and it wasn't until I found this organization that I ever even thought about how these women without access to clean water or feminine hygiene products deal with their menstrual cycles. Those of us in the U.S. take things like disposable maxi pads for granted, and the more I read about Days for Girls, the more I wanted to help.
"What if not having sanitary supplies meant DAYS without school, DAYS without income, DAYS without leaving the house? Girls use leaves, mattress stuffing, newspaper, corn husks, rocks, anything they can find...but still miss up to 2 months of school every year. Worse, girls are often exploited in exchange for hygiene. It turns out this issue is a surprising but instrumental key to social change for women all over the world. The poverty cycle can be broken when girls stay in school."
So I started my own DfG team! Every week, I spend a couple of hours working on these (either alone or with a few friends). There are a lot of pieces that go in each kit and my goal is to complete 10-15 kits before sending them in.

Cutting all the pieces out for the kits.

You can see what's in a kit here. Each one is contained in a colorful drawstring bag so that the women can carry their kit with them.

Colorful drawstring bags.

Each kit includes moisture-proof shields and absorbent pads. These are all made out of cotton and flannel so that they can be easily washed and quickly dried.

Moisture proof shields (one in-progress and one finished).

The kits will also include soap, a ziplock bag, a pair of panties, and a washcloth, as well as instructions on how to use the kit.
"The DfG kit design is the result of feedback from women all over the world. Listening is an approach that results in solutions that work. That's important, because every washable Feminine Hygiene Kit gives back up to 6 months of living in just 3 years of use. That's 180 days of education, health, safety and dignity."

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mother's Day Printable Round-Up

In honor of Mother's Day this week, I thought I'd share some free printables! Enjoy!

Free printable card designed by me! - in Purple, Pink, and Yellow

Click the image to be taken to the source.

Bookmarks by The 36th Avenue

Doodle Card by Mandy Ford

Printable Fill-in Forms by Thirty Handmade Days

Fox Card by We Love To Illustrate

Frame-able Print by 6th Street Design School

Floral Card by Picnics Under the Moon

Poster Card by Proffitt Productions

Rock My Socks Card by Sissy Print